Ladd glad to be part of 'Canes

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Not every player was a loser in the National Hockey League lockout.

Case in point is Carolina Hurricanes junior giant Andrew Ladd. The 19-year-old left winger would've been hard pressed to make the team last year and most certainly would have been part of another non-playoff finish.

But the fourth pick at the 2004 draft, three behind Alexander Ovechkin, returned to the Calgary Hitmen for what he considered to be a valuable development season. He averaged a point a game in the Western Hockey League playoffs, joining Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf and Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge in nearly pushing the Hitmen to three rounds.

"It was a different kind of role for me, a leadership role," said Ladd, whose Hurricanes meet the Leafs tonight in Raleigh, N.C. "I played in all situations. and Getzlaf and I were (depended upon)."

After a rib cartilage injury in training camp, Ladd began the year on the farm with the Lowell Lock Monsters. He went on a scoring tear with the American Hockey League club and was recalled two games ago, the sixth player from the 2004 draft class to appear in an NHL game.

He's part of a trinity of young 'Canes that general manager Jim Rutherford hopes can get the club back to its Stanley Cup contender status of 2002. The club already has shot to the top of the Southeast Division. Centre Eric Staal, who has 33 points, was picked second overall in 2003 and they're anticipating big things from American defenceman Jack Johnson, the third-overall pick this year.

"It's kind of exciting to know you're on a team with young players, with a great goalie in (21-year-old) Cam Ward," Ladd said. "We have a good veteran influence here and hopefully, we all fill out their potential) over the years."


Videos

Photos